A Noble Endeavor - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 2256857

A Noble Endeavor

As a village trustee and the former chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, I feel an obligation to correct recent misinformation from former Mayor Jesse Warren regarding the village budget for fiscal year 2025. Adopted by the current trustees, this budget promotes fiscal responsibility, quality-of-life improvements and needed infrastructure repairs.

1. The tax levy increase in the adopted budget is 4.17 percent, lower than the 4.61 percent increase under Warren’s first budget. The new budget includes necessary quality-of-life and service improvements, such as beginning to pay for deferred maintenance.

In an effort to position himself for reelection, Warren neglected important investments in the village, thereby keeping spending down and artificially keeping the tax rate down. This had the effect of pushing problems into the future — which our board is currently facing.

2. The $5.9 million in bond issuances is for green initiatives, which Warren explicitly deferred. This investment will reduce energy expenses and offset debt service costs within three years, helping the village achieve our zero emission goals. Moody’s triple-A rating for the village, achieved under the current board, also mitigates investment costs. Warren’s inaction should not be credited.

3. The village administrator and superintendent of public works are competent, long-serving public servants — not recipients of patronage. They were both first responders with great respect for our community, appointed based on their credentials and skills. Warren intentionally conflated salary and fringe benefit costs, distorting the truth and exaggerating the salary expense.

4. The Board of Trustees hired a village attorney to bring legal expenses down from record highs under Warren’s term in office. Warren went through four village attorneys because he repeatedly rejected their legal advice. His self-serving use of outside attorney legal expenses exceeded $688,000 in his last year, compared to $507,000 last year and $430,484 in this year’s budget.

5. The current year mortgage tax revenue collection is over $900,000 — not the $648,727 that Warren claims. Mortgage tax revenue is collected cumulatively starting from the beginning of the fiscal year. To make the figures appear lower than they actually are, he conveniently selected the collection number from March, fully aware that collections increase as the year progresses. The real number, as of mid-May, is continuing to grow. We are currently on track to achieve our projected revenue goals.

Misinformation and character assassination are unacceptable. Public service is a noble endeavor, not a platform for self-promotion.

This behavior is unbecoming of a former official who once had the trust of village voters.

Len Zinnanti

Southampton Village